I Made a ‘Mind Map’ of the Insanely Complex Sony Menu System


It all started as a seemingly simple task. To make it easier to master the menu system of the Sony a7 Mark III, I decided to create a mind map. But this project quickly evolved into a major, and rather fascinating, undertaking.

It’s not a secret that the menu systems of any Sony Alpha camera can be charitably described as advanced. But you can only appreciate its intricacy and sheer complexity, when the entire system is laid bare in front of you. I spent several days mapping the menu system, and it felt like exploring an uncharted world.

The result is both fascinating and mind-boggling. The mind map contains about 900 nodes, each corresponding to an individual menu item—and this isn’t even the complete number, as I didn’t map elements where it was impractical to do so. Even if I subtract a handful of nodes containing annotations of certain menu items, the number is still staggering.

It would make little sense to show the mind map in its entirety, so here is a fragment of it to give you a general idea:

You can view and download a fully-expanded mind map here.

The goal of this endeavor was not to produce an impressive-looking mind map, though. Well, not entirely, at any rate. First, it offered a good way to discover and understand the camera’s less-often used functionality and unearth useful features buried under multiple menu layers. I also use the resulting mind map as a reference on my laptop and mobile devices.

Quickly navigating through mind maps is much more practical than flipping through pages or scrolling through a PDF file.

You can buy the mind map file itself at Gumroad. It was created with Freeplane, an open-source mind-mapping tool available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The mind map is stored in the .mm format that can be imported into many popular mind-mapping applications. Better still, you can export the mind map into different formats. So if the mind map is not your cup of tea, you can export it as a collapsible outline in the good old HTML format that can be viewed in any browser.

The mind map is released under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, so you are free to tweak it.


About the author: Dmitri Popov is an amateur photographer and professional tech writer. He’s the author of the digiKam Recipes and Linux Photography. You can find more of his work on work on his website. This post was also published here.



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